Durban - A South African criminal who has been on the run from New Zealand police for 11 years is now being hunted by British authorities for the alleged murder of his gay friend.
Ricardo Pisano, also known as Brandon Victor Pillay, is wanted for the recent murder of Michael Polding, 62.
Polding was discovered in his St George’s Road flat on July 16 with multiple injuries.
Police believe he may have been dead since May.
British authorities say they have reason to believe Pisano could shed light on Polding’s last moments.
Sussex police spokeswoman, Emily Bridges, told the Daily News it was highly unlikely Pisano had returned to South Africa. But they would alert South African authorities to be on the lookout for him.
Bridges said: “We know that he is from South Africa. He had travelled to London via New Zealand. At this stage there are very limited details known about him.”
Head of Interpol South Africa, Brigadier Scott Naidoo, said a red notice (international wanted persons alert) had not been issued for Pisano.
The absence of an identity number also made it impossible for local police to conduct a crime check on Pisano or to see if he was wanted for any crime in South Africa.
Bridges said while Pisano did not feature on Interpol’s wanted list, an alert had been issued to all UK ports, airports and police stations.
On August 10, 2001, Pisano escaped from a Rangipo Prison work party, in the Taupo area, New Zealand. He was serving a 15-month sentence at the Waikato prison, for extortion.
Bridges said Polding was openly gay, but refused to disclose if he had been romantically involved with Pisano.
“The investigation has led us to believe that his death was not linked to any hate crime as a result of his sexuality and that any assault he may have suffered was not as a result of a random attack.”
She said Detective Chief Inspector Nick May was leading the investigation, known as Operation Journal.
Detectives from the Surrey and the Sussex Major Crime Team were working around the clock to track Pisano, who also used the alias Ree or Ricky, she said. Pisano and Polding had known each other for four years and had spent time together before Polding died.
“At first Mr Polding’s death was treated as unexplained. But, following a post-mortem on July 21, a murder investigation was launched.
Bridges said Pisano was about 1.71m tall and of slim build.
“The post-mortem showed he [Polding] had suffered a number of injuries which had led to his death.